Beyond the Build

Leadership

Success.

Recently, I was with the CEO of one of our longtime customer relationships, talking over lunch. As I was listening to him, I was reminded how success taints our vision at times. When we fail, our vision is crystal clear.

This company was particularly successful for several decades. They could do no wrong, make no wrong decisions and they kept growing. The problem was that in some aspects, the pre-financial crisis economy was holding up the boat.

We all remember this time, when it often felt like loans were flowing out of the commercial banks without suitable equities to support the concept, the proforma or the deal. Along the way, this company decided to invest substantial capital in a huge expansion, which in hindsight they perhaps should have approached in a more judicious manner. As it turns out, decisions were made when they were on top of the world and could do no wrong, and they weren’t thought all the way through. The good news is they’re survivors and much better for this experience.

The same is true on a smaller scale, in our own lives. We all learn much more from our mistakes and failures than we do our successes. I wish I had an experience pill for my children, to give them wisdom of experience, but unfortunately, life doesn’t work like this, does it?

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.